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Elderly Medicare beneficiaries give their coverage higher ratings than do those with ESI
Date:5/11/2009

Bethesda, MD -- Elderly Medicare beneficiaries are more satisfied with their health care, and experience fewer problems accessing and paying for care, than Americans with employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), according to a study by Commonwealth Fund researchers published today on the Health Affairs Web site.

The study is based on data from the Commonwealth Fund 2007 Biennial Health Insurance Survey, a nationally representative survey of 3,501 adults age 19 and older conducted between June 4 and October 24, 2007. The gap between consumers' ratings of Medicare and ESI has widened since a similar survey in 2001.

"Right now, policymakers are debating whether to offer a public health insurance plan to those under 65 as part of comprehensive health reform. Our results show that, in important ways, Medicare serves the elderly more effectively than employer-sponsored coverage serves its enrollees. If given the opportunity, many adults under age 65 would likely select a public health insurance option," said lead author Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund.

The favorable ratings given Medicare by beneficiaries suggest that they are fundamentally more satisfied with their coverage relative to those with ESI, say Davis and coauthors Stuart Guterman, Michelle Doty, and Kristof Stremikis. Thirty-seven percent of elderly Medicare beneficiaries rated their coverage as excellent, versus 20 percent of the employer group. Meanwhile, only 8 percent of elderly Medicare beneficiaries rated their insurance as "fair" or "poor," compared with 18 percent of those with ESI.

Survey results demonstrate that Medicare beneficiaries are less likely than those with private coverage to report negative experiences with their insurance plans -- including having expensive medical bills for noncovered services, being charged a lot more than insurance would pay, and physicians' not taking their insurance. For example, only 10 percent of elderly M
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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